QUETTA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif vowed on Monday that the government was committed to providing all resources available for the country’s sportspersons to help them excel in their respective fields.
Speaking during the formal opening ceremony of the National Games here at the Ayub Stadium, the prime minister said the holding of the event in the “historic city of Quetta” after a span of 19 years “manifests national unity, strength and patriotism for the motherland”.
“Healthy and educated youths are a guarantee for development of any nation and the federal government is committed to providing all possible resources to create a healthy and conducive atmosphere for the promotion of all sports in the country,” the premier stated as teams marched past during the ceremony.
“Nations that have progressed rapidly have healthy and educated youths and Pakistan is proud of its athletes who have not only earned fame in the country but also brought glory from abroad.”
Shehbaz observed that Pakistan’s youth possessed huge potential which can be utilised in different sporting fields to bring more laurels for the country.
“In the past, we had distributed laptops, established schools and promoted sports whilst awarding high achievers and we will continue doing so, especially in the field of sports as the country becomes healthy if its youth is healthy,” he reiterated.
He also congratulated Governor Balochistan Malik Abdul Wali Kakar, Chief Minister MirAbdul Qudoos Bizenjo and the management committee for making excellent arrangements to host the Games.
The Games have been in progress since last week and some team events have already concluded with Pakistan Army leading the way atop the medals table. They have bagged 54 golds so far with Wapda second on 25 and Pakistan Navy in third on 23.
The 23rd gold for the Navy was delivered by Muzammil Hassan winning the J/80 class Sailing event at the PN Aquatic Club in Karachi.
No sporting events were held in Quetta due to the opening ceremony but the tennis event commenced in Islamabad with Punjab and Navy winning their matches to progress to the second round of the team event.
Punjab won both their singles against Sindh with Faizan Fayyaz overwhelming Zubair Raja 6-1 6-3 and Asad Zaman overcoming Sheeraz Bhand 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
Navy progressed the hard way against Balochistan after losing the opening singles game as Rizwan Shah overpowered Taimur Malik 7-5, 6-4.
But Aqeel Shabbir brought Navy level when he thrashed Zafar Ahmed 6-2, 6-0 before he and Taimur combined to down Zafar and Rizwan 6-2, 6-2 in the deciding doubles.
Events in basketball are due to begin on Tuesday at the Ayub Sports Complex but there remain doubts whether the athletics programme will be held in Quetta.
Although the Pakistan Olympic Association did not make an official announcement, reports are rife that athletics wouldn’t be held in Quetta as Athletics Federation of Pakistan president retired Maj Gen Akram Sahi had obtained a stay order to prevent them from going ahead.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2023
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